Invest in a Brand Position
Companies today are good at telling their potential customers about themselves−from their perspective. Many times they forget whom they’re talking to and what they really care about.
To start, it’s important to claim a position. Developing a leadership position requires an upfront investment in planning. To maximize your tactical marketing budget Gerard Marketing Group recommends that clients invest in a three-phase approach to develop a position and message that is relevant, on target and in the right place at the right time:
I. Develop a Brand Platform – Who are you?
II. Develop a Marketing Plan – What are you going to say?
III. Tactical Marketing Plan – When and how are you going to say it?
This three-tiered plan will act as the map for all future marketing tactics for years to come. Many like to skip this planning stage and run out and hire either a Web, direct mail, public relations or advertising firm and throw money at a tactic they think might work. When you do that, you are putting money into something without thinking through where you want it to take you. It’s like getting in the car and driving without having your route planned, or possibly even not knowing where you want to go. It’s inefficient and costly.
At Gerard Marketing, we know small to medium-sized businesses aren’t Nike and don’t need zillions of megabytes of analysis to develop their brand, but they need good planning more than anyone, as they need to get the best ROI from their marketing budgets possible. We recommend they invest a minimum of 20% of their annual marketing budget upfront for planning. It is worth the investment.
More than ever messages need to be relevant, on target and succinct. They also need to be in the right place at the right time. My husband likes to say that “timing is everything,” which is annoying to me, but the truth is, it is a huge factor in most things in life, even marketing. The timing of your message is important. The message you portray should speak to your target audience based upon where they are in their purchase process. Your brand and key messages remain consistent, but the dominant message on your Web home page where people are first considering your product or service is not going to be the same as in a final proposal or nearing the close of a sale.
I like to say that marketing is just sales on paper. You have to think about each touch point with your target audience as a personal conversation.
All this planning and strategizing is great, but we also want it to equate to results. Make sure that you or your marketing partner sets aside the time and funding to measure results at least quarterly on your Web site traffic and any other indicators relevant to your business. Measuring along the way allows you to adjust your course, if needed, or see which areas that are performing exceptionally well where you may want to put the petal to the metal, so to speak.
Those that invest in a developing a brand position and annual marketing plan will get more results no matter what category of business you are in—tennis shoes or consulting services. As the principal of Gerard Marketing Group, I encourage clients to take on this process in-house if they have the resources and ability to do it. If not, know when you need an expert. It’s worth the investment.